Broccoli pasta casserole with mozzarella

This cheesy broccoli pasta casserole with mozzarella is a healthy and filling dinner option. Broccoli are blended into a creamy purée with parmesan. Mix this broccoli cream with cooked pasta, add diced mozzarella, a dusting of parmesan on top and finish it in the oven. A perfect and easy mid-week dinner recipe with a lovely mild broccoli flavour.

This is not your regular broccoli pasta. This is a baked broccoli pasta casserole. All the flavour of broccoli pasta is amplified with the addition of mozzarella, parmesan and some oven time, that always makes everything more delicious. A cheesy twist to a simple pasta dish, this broccoli pasta casserole is sure to turn broccoli-skeptics into lifetime lovers of the vegetable.

baked broccoli pasta gratin
I mean look at it. It looks like pesto!

Blended broccoli for life!

Do you live with a picky eater? Someone who loves the flavour of some foods but not the texture? Or who will be completely put off seeing certain vegetables in their plate but who will eat them if they’re somewhat concealed? Then you know that the blender is your best friend. The blender is key also in this recipe.

Regular broccoli pasta will call for actual broccoli florets featuring here and there in your pasta. But here we will make our broccoli completely disappear by blending it. With cheese. This broccoli pasta casserole features a creamy broccoli sauce. The result is a saucy casserole with a delicate broccoli flavour and stringy mozzarella pulling at every forkful. This is what broccoli dreams are made of.

More comfort food: Italian lentil stew with mushrooms.

fresh broccoli closeup

The best thing about this recipe is that you use whole broccoli! Not just the florets, but the stem, too! It’s time to give that sad part that gets thrown away most of the times the attention it deserves. Despite being less attractive than the florets, broccoli stems are equally packed with flavour and nutrients. Not something you want to get rid of. You’re about to blend it anyway, so who cares about the appearance.

Broccoli pasta casserole recipe

This broccoli pasta bake is pretty simple and only requires a handful of ingredients:

  • Fresh broccoli
  • Pasta (I have used girandole here, but any type of “short” pasta shape will do)
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmigiano
  • Creme fraiche
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

As for the procedure, you just follow some simple steps:

  1. Make the broccoli purée;
  2. Cook the pasta;
  3. Combine pasta, broccoli purée and cheese;
  4. Bake.

An explanation of these steps and some useful tips follow. Precise quantities and simplified directions are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Broccoli pasta bake

Step 1 – the broccoli purée

  • Cut up the broccoli (the thinner the faster it will cook) and remember to slice up the stem, too.
  • Add your chopped up broccoli to a pot with water and butter and set on medium-high heat. Keep covered in order to keep the steam trapped inside the pot. Cook 4-5 minutes.
  • Take away from the heat as soon as the broccoli feel tender to prick with a fork. Add cream and parmesan, blend with a hand blender and just stir in some freshly cracked black pepper.

This is what you’ll be mixing with cooked pasta and diced mozzarella, but it works as a delicious side dish alone.

Looking for a starter? Italian shrimp cocktail is a nice option.

Broccoli puree with parmigiano

Step 2 – cook the pasta

Cooking the pasta may seem like the easiest and most straightforward step, but there is one important adjustment to standard pasta cooking at play here.

  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for half of the time suggested on the package.

Perfect pasta dishes call for pasta al dente. Firm pasta is fundamental in Italian cuisine. By undercooking our pasta we are ensuring it will not overcook once we place it in the oven. Actually, there’s more:

  • Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold running water.

This will stop the cooking process, that would otherwise keep happening if we just let hot pasta sit in its own heat. Rinse the pot under cold water to cool that as well, and place the pasta back into the empty pot.

baked pasta casserole with broccoli

Assemble the dish and bake

  • Pour the creamy broccoli purée over the the cooked pasta and toss.
  • Dice the mozzarella cheese and add it to the mixture, then transfer it all into a casserole dish.
  • Top with a generous sprinkle of grated parmigiano all over the pasta.
  • Bake your pasta casserole in the oven set on broil for 20 minutes at 200°C. The pasta is cooked, so are the broccoli. We don’t need to get anything soft here, we just want the heat to melt the cheese and the broil setting to create the crunchy top.

Can I make broccoli pasta casserole in advance?

If having a delicious, easy and healthy dinner option was not enough, here’s one more reason to love this recipe. This broccoli pasta bake reheats great! Store your leftovers in lunch boxes and enjoy it for lunch the following day. Sometimes I just make a batch of this and portion it out into lunch boxes directly, without having it for dinner. This dish is so microwave-friendly that is just so perfect.

Use oven-proof glass boxes if you want even less cleaning up afterwards! After you’ve mixed all the ingredients in the pot you used to cook the pasta, portion it out directly into your lunch boxes. Top each portion with parmesan and bake them already as individual portions. You will obviously have to wait until they have cooled completely before putting on the plastic lid, but that will leave you with no glass casserole to wash up!

Can I make this broccoli pasta bake vegan?

Absolutely! Just sub the dairy ingredients with equivalent vegan alternatives. Any plant-based cream will work in the mash. As for the mozzarella, just pick a different “cheese”, as long as it melts in the oven. Mozzarella is mostly added for texture than taste in this recipe.

What gives flavour is the Parmigiano, so to sub that you need to find an equivalent stronger vegan alternative (with nutritional yeast). This is a very delicate dish and the Parmesan is what gives it a little personality. If you can’t have parmesan, find an alternative rather than just omit.

If catering for different dietary requirements like gluten free, just swap regular pasta for a gluten-free alternative, like bean or lentil pasta.

Pin my broccoli pasta bake with mozzarella and parmigiano recipe:

Broccoli pasta bake: a baked pasta casserole with broccoli and mozzarella.

 

Broccoli pasta bake

A baked pasta casserole with broccoli and mozzarella. A simple and filling dish that is easy to make and very tasty.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked pasta, broccoli pasta, pasta casserole
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 611 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

For the broccoli mash

  • 350 g fresh broccoli
  • 100 ml water
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 30 g Parmigiano

For the pasta bake

  • 350 g pasta (fusilli or girandole recommended)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250 g mozzarella
  • 70 g Parmigiano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Set a pot of water to boil. When the water boils, add salt and the pasta. Check the suggested cooking time on the pasta package and cook the pasta for half of that time. This is very important in order to prevent the noodles from overcooking. When the pasta is done - halfway through normal cooking time - drain and run the cooked pasta under cold water to quickly bring it to room temperature. Season with olive oil and set aside.

  2. Clean and cut the broccoli into thin slices, florets and stem altogether. The thinner the slices, the quicker it will cook. Add the sliced broccoli, butter and 100 ml water to a pot and set on high heat. Keep covered and stir occasionally in order to distribute the melting butter all around. When the water reaches boiling temperature, lower the heat and keep steaming the broccoli with the lid on for a few more minutes. Remove the broccoli from the heat when tender but still bright green.

  3. Transfer steamed broccoli to a tall container and add the creme fraiche and the parmigiano. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. The parmigiano should give some flavour to this mash, but add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

  4. Combine the cooked pasta, broccoli purée and diced mozzarella and give it all a good stir to ensure all the pasta gets nicely coated in broccoli purée. Transfer to a casserole dish and sprinkle remaining Parmigiano on the top.

  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes at 200°C with the broil setting.

Recipe Notes

Girandole (the pasta used in this post) have a very short cooking time, so using this type of pasta for this recipe means a pretty short time. If using fusilli, farfalle or any other kind of pasta, the preparation of the noodles may take a bit longer. Still it is very important to cook the pasta for half of the suggested time and always rinse it with cold water to quickly lower its temperature and stop the cooking.

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate.

Nutrition Facts
Broccoli pasta bake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 611 Calories from Fat 351
% Daily Value*
Fat 39g60%
Saturated Fat 20g125%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 95mg32%
Sodium 915mg40%
Potassium 393mg11%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 31g62%
Vitamin A 1494IU30%
Vitamin C 78mg95%
Calcium 666mg67%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

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26 Comments

  1. Gloria | Homemade & Yummy May 20, 2019 at 20:22

    5 stars
    This looks like one delicious pasta casserole. Great for a brunch item, or dinner any night of the week. Combining pasta and broccoli and pasta is so good. My grandkids would love this too.

    Reply
    1. Eva May 21, 2019 at 08:31

      I don’t have kids myself, but this surely is a way to make kids love broccoli. Loads of cheese do help 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jackie May 21, 2019 at 01:45

    5 stars
    I am always looking for ways to get my kiddos to eat broccoli. This one will be a hit with them and I already know it, bonus I can take it to work with me the next day!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 21, 2019 at 08:32

      Yes! I love making this because it works so well in lunch boxes for the following day!

      Reply
  3. Jennifer T Tammy May 24, 2019 at 18:25

    I love a good broccoli bake – this sounds perfect for summer potlucks!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:23

      Oh yeah, definitely a win at potlucks!

      Reply
  4. Tynia May 24, 2019 at 21:06

    This sound great! I think my baby boy will really like this recipe. He actually loves broccoli and Parmesan cheese. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:23

      How great that your child actually loves broccoli! You’re very lucky!

      Reply
  5. Julie Barber-Rotenberg May 25, 2019 at 20:28

    My kids love pasta, but we rarely make it in our house because we try to eat lots of veggies. I love that this will please the kids but also make sure they’re getting enough veggies. Everyone wins!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:24

      You can’t go wrong with this one. Plus, lots of parmesan means also adding some protein!

      Reply
  6. Elena May 26, 2019 at 10:34

    5 stars
    I agree with Jackie, this pasta bake is perfect for kids. What a great idea to blend broccoli before baking. I’m sure my son will enjoy this recipe!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:25

      Blending veggies is the best trick to fool your children into learning to appreciate them!

      Reply
  7. Carol Borchardt May 26, 2019 at 13:42

    5 stars
    I’m a huge fan of baked pasta dishes and this dish looks wonderful! They’re perfect to make ahead and bake later. Pinned, too because I’m always on the hunt for dishes like this to make for my personal chef clients. Looking forward to making!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:25

      Hope your clients will enjoy this!

      Reply
  8. Amanda May 26, 2019 at 20:21

    5 stars
    I’m right there with you on baked pasta dishes! They’re so good, and this cheesy broccoli pasta bake is no exception. I love the creamy texture the creme fraiche adds. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:26

      Thank you Amanda!!

      Reply
  9. Charity May 26, 2019 at 20:58

    5 stars
    Broccoli is my favorite veggie but I’ve never tried pureeing it into a pasta sauce. Really excited to give it a try!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:26

      And the best part is that you also get to use the stem, so less food waste!

      Reply
  10. Daniela May 27, 2019 at 00:32

    What a delicious and nutritious sounding pasta bake with the broccoli in there!!! Super stoked to make the when I’m craving some good ol’ comfort food with a healthy twist :)!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:27

      This is indeed a perfect meal – filling, nutritious and delicious, too!

      Reply
  11. lauren May 27, 2019 at 01:59

    5 stars
    Substituting the parmesan for the cauliflower is such a great idea! My husband isn’t a fan of cauliflower either but I love. He does appreciate broccoli and cheese though, this will definitely be a hit.

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:27

      I feel you, I enjoy cauliflower alone in this house 😀 Hope your husband will like this recipe!

      Reply
  12. Amy May 27, 2019 at 03:38

    5 stars
    This is such a great dinner idea! I would love to share this with my family sometime, especially knowing how healthy it is. 🙂 The broccoli adds an interesting pop of color, as well, kicking it up from your average pasta dish!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:28

      Pasta bakes are perfect, and if you can load them with veggies there’s no better thing in the world!

      Reply
  13. Jo May 27, 2019 at 04:18

    5 stars
    That broccoli puree looks sensational. I could eat that alone as it is. This pasta bake is something my kids would love to eat and without complaints. Looks delicious!

    Reply
    1. Eva May 27, 2019 at 16:29

      I also love to indulge on that broccoli purée alone! It’s a fantastic side dish!

      Reply

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